Missing in action for a couple of years, it’s now time to put Mountie back where he belongs, says Mount Maunganui and Papamoa ward councillor Dawn Kiddie.
The iconic surfer statue was once a feature of Phoenix carpark, where he stood leaning forward on his surf board with the froth from waves splaying out behind him.
Everyone loved the statue, with tourists and visitors to nearby shops taking selfies with the icon.
He was put into storage at the Mount Senior Citizens Hall when the Mount Mainstreet office was removed from the carpark prior to the new development of what is now Te Papa o Nga Manu Porotakataka.
The urban space – a mix of hard surfaces, lawn and native planting, with an interactive water feature, is at the heart of Mount Maunganui’s city centre – and the feeling amongst local residents is that it’s time the much-loved and photographed sculpture was returned.
Mainstreet Mount Maunganui’s Project Phoenix was officially opened by Prime Minister Jim Bolger on July 5, 1996. It was envisaged that the project would revitalise the Mount.
It is thought that Mountie, owned by Mount Mainstreet, became a key Mount icon around December 2005 or 2006. Since being installed on the deck of the Mainstreet office, he enjoyed an adventurous main street life, including a kidnapping attempt in 2008, following which sculptor Donald Paterson had to reattach his arm.
Mountie has overseen the Farmers Market, held every Sunday 9am – 1pm rain or shine, and in June 2015, the statue was at hand to keep an eye on then Mainstreet manager Peter Melgren’s inaugural New Zealand Gourmet BBQ Championship, which attracted some of the best gourmet cooks from around the country. At the time Peter said that Mountie was one of the most photographed statues in the Bay of Plenty.
There’s been the annual VW ‘show and shine’ event, a Tauranga to Trenches mobile exhibition commemorating the centenary of the First World War in 2015, the spectacle of 20 Morgan sports cars in 2016, and both Santa Claus and the Easter bunny have put in appearances next to Mountie, entertaining children and parents.
In 2013, Council resolved to include a proposal in the draft Annual Plan to redevelop the Phoenix carpark into an urban space and undertake a community engagement process. Elected members resolved in 2017 to proceed with the implementation of the Phoenix park open space development. The plan was that the new urban green space would benefit local businesses economically through increased foot traffic.
Mountie’s life in storage at the hall is coming to an end as the space is required for other purposes.
“We’re talking with Mount Mainstreet and Council staff about where his new home is going to be,” says Dawn. “He has to be moved out of that storage space, we need Council to store him, and he’s very heavy.”
Tauranga City Councillor, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa Ward Dawn Kiddie is keen to get Mountie reinstated back at the heart of the Mount shopping area so that once again shoppers and visitors can enjoy being reminded what the Mount is famous for, surfing a great wave.